This film is part of Free

Sailors with Wings

Hair-raising footage of a US Navy dive bomber squadron in action puts the viewer in the cockpit, in this account of the ever-growing importance of the US navy’s air force in 1941.

1941 20 mins


Packed with dramatic footage of fighter planes, flying boats and torpedo bombers, this film was released in the USA in October 1941, two months before the attack on Pearl Harbour. Inviting viewers to take a behind-the-scenes look at life on an on-shore naval air station and an aircraft carrier, the film reveals the daily activities of the men of the US Naval Air Force, and includes dramatic footage of dive bombers soaring into the air in a vertigo inducing take-off.

This film is full of praise for the airmen and sailors whose main task before America joined the war was to protect the flow of arms and food across the Atlantic. The admiring tone is informed by producer Louis De Rochement’s abiding love for the US Navy. Enlisting in the American Naval Reserve when he left school at 16, De Rochement eventually became an officer, before resigning his commission in 1923, to take up a job as a cameraman for Hearst International Newsreel. His experience at sea had a lasting effect and his respect for the traditions and values of the navy is evident here and other March of Time films, including, ‘US Navy 1940’, ‘Gateways to Panama’, ‘Crisis in the Atlantic 1941’ and ‘Men of the US Navy’.